LONDON -- Ultra-Broadband Forum 2014 -- Huawei has urged governments worldwide to offer new investment incentives to companies rolling out so-called ultra-broadband (UBB) networks, and worry less about the need to protect competition.
Speaking here Wednesday morning, Ryan Ding, the Chinese equipment maker's president of products and solutions, said there was a need to "redefine regulation" in the era of UBB.
"At this stage it is more important to ensure universal coverage," he told attendees during a morning session. "Some countries have already moved the focal point from competition to protecting investment incentives, and this has stimulated spending on infrastructure."
The clear implication is that telecoms operators be given a 'regulatory holiday' on their investments in fiber-optic networks.
European authorities, in particular, have weighed in and dictated the prices that operators can charge rivals for access to their copper-based broadband networks, but this model has been seen as a deterrent to investment in next-generation access.
Although some regulators have relaxed their stance on wholesale pricing, there continues to be resistance to moves that would make life tougher for alternative operators relying on incumbents' networks.
Ding also believes broadband should be treated no differently from the postal industry in markets such as the US, where premium express delivery services such as FedEx are allowed to compete against the more basic, best-efforts option.
Telecoms operators are eager to recoup their investments in higher-speed networks by offering premium services to content providers willing to pay for that privilege, but advocates of net neutrality -- the principle that all Internet traffic be treated equally -- have fiercely opposed this practice.
"We need to look at addressing diversified customer demands," said Ding.
Arguing that broadband is becoming as critical to economic prosperity as power and transport infrastructure, the Huawei executive said a number of emerging applications would require lower latency and higher throughput than operators may typically offer.
Speaking immediately after Ding, Kevin Kelly, founder of Wired magazine, gave examples of numerous forthcoming technologies that could put huge pressure on broadband infrastructure in the years ahead.
Besides 4K TV, which is already taking off in some parts of the world, developments in virtual reality and artificial intelligence will also force operators to continue upgrading their networks, noted Kelly.
— Iain Morris, Site Editor, Ultra-Broadband